Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Trump Calls For U.S. Withdrawal From Syria, Corporate Media Goes Nuts

". . . while the jumble of information and speculation about Trump's possible Syria maneuverings doesn't necessarily tell us a whole lot, the reaction to it tells us why the world looks the way it looks. The most powerful military force in the history of civilization inflicts violence and domination with total impunity and total disregard for national sovereignty, demanding total respect for its own borders and total compliance from all nations outside its border. Nations which obey are absorbed into an alliance that is so tight and streamlined it can effectively be called an empire, while nations which disobey are invaded, occupied, disrupted and destroyed. 

"We've got to evolve beyond this mentality of intrusive domination which is so aggressively promoted as normal by the mass media. The idea that it's okay for a powerful nation to insert its military force into a weaker nation in order to manipulate geopolitical dynamics to its advantage is a sickness, and we need to heal it."

-----Caitlin Johnstone, Reactions To Trump's Syria Withdrawal Plan Say More Than The Plan Itself

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Wake From The Nightmare Or Eternal Sleep For Humanity

“The tradition of the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the minds of the living.”   Karl Marx

Wake From The Nightmare Or Eternal Sleep For Humanity   

Marx offered a thought for all seasons but one that might especially ring true during what is supposed to be a season of peace, joy and humanity. Contradicted by the ever more insanely harsh reality of marketing mass murder under the guise of creating freedom, much of our race, though still too few to radically transform the totality of our reality, has begun to rise in defense of all against a system that profits only a few. France’s recent experience was part of a hopeful trend in that segments of a public which has been bought, sold and rented into near poverty showed they are tired and demanded social justice over becoming what capital sees as a loss of its private profits. Their awakening from humanity’s nightmare, however brief it may seem, is inspiring as well as overdue. The actions of a predominately working class group of citizens demonstrating with enough fervor to force the French government to at least renege on some issues is in stark contrast to Americans trooping off to the polls to “resist” a personality while their system – the same one the French are up in arms about – disintegrates all around them. If we have anything to be happy about during the annual shopping frenzy of an alleged spiritual time for humanity, in a small way it’s a few changes in our congress, but in a greater way it’s the sign of awakening we see in France which will hopefully spread to more places in the New Year.

The social democratic salvation capital arranged after the depression of the twenties and thirties has collapsed and become a renewal of the worst forms of fascist capital that preceded and soon followed that brief cosmetic safety for some made possible only by the reduction to disfigured ugliness of others. The rise in status of a new middle class for millions in the western world was only possible with the misery of greater multitudes in what was called the third, or undeveloped world, but also the poverty class in that same west. There were people sleeping on the streets of America before, during, and after the last breakdown of capital given the brand name “the great depression”. This latest collapse that began in 2008 and is very possibly the last one that will wake up more than the French is only different in that it is worse and the numbers in the street have grown so much only the intellectually and morally blind cannot see them.

The wealth accumulation of the return to market fundamentalist roots was and continues to be shared by a shrinking minority while growing majorities have seen the facade of humanity brought about by social democratic capitalism dissolve in the reality of a take-no-prisoners brand of marketing. This Artificially Intelligent farce not only prides itself on the creation of poverty and warfare but dulls the sense of many of its innocent subjects by filling heads with propaganda that passes for news, entertainment to distract consciousness further, and the combination of the two that marketers call “infotainment”.

Thus we have a perverse form of capital therapy that herds us into near frenzied lynch mobs of genuinely frustrated and set upon souls directing energy at everything but the cause of most if not all the things that plague us. Rich individuals approaching deity status with economic powers beyond those of past royal despots are relatively invisible while some of their employees in government attract enough attention to be replaced by other of their employees who appeal to one or another interest or identity group affording pleasure to some, pain to most and continued ruling power to the incredibly rich minority at the top of the modern pyramid of capital. 

Preposterous stories blaming Russia, China, Iran and possibly the Tooth Fairy for every sign of failure in what passes for a language perversion called the “free world” confuse and convince enough among the well fed and supposedly educated classes for the moment. When hardship eventually hits them in a material, rather than mental way, they will hopefully leave their identity groups and join the human race in the work necessary to transform global society.

Until the public good comes before private profit, things will get worse for all of us and any focus that continues separation of humans from potential majorities into smaller identity groups is simply the age old divide and conquer strategies always employed by minority rulers. This helps lead people with individual moral codes that find poverty and injustice intolerable to not only tolerate but to practice the most dreadful social policies imaginable. Privately, we Americans are as good, kind, compassionate, decent, and humane as any people on earth. Socially, however, we spend trillions on war, billions on pets, leave millions to live in poverty and hundreds of thousands to live on the street, and thus collectively become among the most degenerate moral perverts on the planet.

The skin tone, ethnicity, religion, sex or sexual preference of those serving capital while eating meals and flushing toilets at the white house or in slightly lesser roles in congress makes no difference to their victims reduced to cleaning the debris of death and destruction in the places where they oversee the bombing and looting. After their homes and nations are ruined we welcome some of them as migrants offering us cheap labor and a balm for our souls to maintain holiday spirit until the next slaughter we conduct. Food, clothing and shelter are basic human needs, not separate identity practices. They become so under private profit first economics that assure only some of the public will experience good, and that group is shrinking. The only way to assure a better life for all is for the ruling power to come from people who put the public good first, before any private gain is considered. Everyone has to be assured of food, clothing and shelter before anyone can aspire and work for even more by achieving private profit at the market. There is only one way to achieve that change and end society’s nightmare: the democratic forces of humanity must replace the market forces of capital. Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

2018 in Review, If You Can Stand It

The year was only hours old when a "bomb cyclone" dumped massive snowfalls across the eastern U.S., just the latest in extreme weather events that portended a harrowing if not grim human future. Nevertheless, corporate media attention continued to be riveted on Donald Trump's Tweetstorms instead of emerging climate catastrophe, highlighting the establishment's preference for indulging political hatred of a legally elected president over bringing proper attention to an issue that could destroy prospects of civilized existence. Try as one might, it was difficult to square such perverse priorities with the media's alleged public watchdog role. 

 A few weeks later in his State of the Union address, Trump reiterated his call for "a great wall along the southern border," while once again taking no action on the silly proposal. The usual accusation of "nativist" was quickly heard, but commentators neglected to point out that if anything like a Trump Wall ever does get built it will be to hold back the rising ocean, not Latin American peasants, who will benefit from the massive increase in construction jobs the mammoth barrier will create. Like so much else in the Trump political arsenal, the Wall is a distraction.

In February, Julian Assange unsuccessfully attempted to have his UK arrest warrant dropped, and once again the corporate media silence was deafening. Assange, holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for practicing journalism without a license, was doing the investigative work reporters are supposed to do but rarely manage to, especially on U.S. national security policy, which Assange has relentlessly exposed. Professional journalists did nothing to help him as he defended our freedom, human rights, and civil liberties, which was not exactly surprising since he was exposing the kind of lies they get paid to tell - like about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, about Qaddafi being on the verge of committing genocide, about Assad gassing his own people outside Damascus.

In March, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was sent packing after rather undiplomatically referring to President Trump as a "moron," soon to be replaced by Mike Pompeo, who moved over from his post as CIA director. Pompeo quickly demanded "complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea," tactfully avoiding mention of massive and growing nuclear stockpiles in U.S. hands, as well as any reference to the fact that the U.S. scorched and blasted North Korea to a barren ruin with napalm and "conventional" bombs (over three million Koreans died in the "police action"), an achievement that would have been quite impossible if North Korea had possessed even one deliverable atomic bomb. Meanwhile, Gina Haspel shattered the glass ceiling at the CIA, replacing Pompeo as director of the agency, the first woman to fill that post. Prior to this victory for women everywhere Haspel ran the agency's torture unit. Will the feminist triumph lead to more or fewer testicles hooked up to car batteries? Stay tuned.

In April, the FBI raided the New York offices of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Cohen is alleged to have organized the payment of "hush money" to women Trump had affairs with, including porn star Stormy Daniels. The stunning violation of Cohen's privacy rights proved to be of no concern to liberals, who allegedly care about civil liberties. With Cohen's personal banking transactions dominating the airwaves, they affected shock that Cohen was trading on his relationship with Trump, influence peddling being such a rarity in Washington. Conservative author Ann Coulter eagerly bashed liberals over the head for their hypocritical failure to criticize the raid: "If, instead of being 'Michael Cohen, personal lawyer to Donald Trump,' he had been 'Mohammed Kahani, personal lawyer to Osama bin Laden,' liberals would be having die-ins across the country to protest the raid."

In May, Trump sent a U.S. delegation to dedicate a new American embassy in Jerusalem, the culmination of half a century of Jewish colonization of Arab land in the city, all supported with a nod and a wink by U.S. administrations going back to LBJ.  Liberals, deeply affected by the separation of children from their parents at the U.S. border later in the year, didn't even deign to notice thousands of Palestinian children bombed and shot with U.S. weapons (often modified and "improved" by Israel) while going about their daily activities in their own country.

In June, the Supreme Court upheld Trump's travel ban limiting entry to the U.S. by travelers from Libya, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea. Not coincidentally, all of these countries had been seriously damaged or destroyed by U.S. imperial policies largely opposed by Republican and Democratic bases, but supported by both parties' elites. Immigration debate raged about who should be let in and who shut out, but little attention was given to the fact that those in desperate flight from Washington's brutal economic austerity and region-ravaging wars would have no motive to come in the first place if the American people were allowed to reject these unpopular policies at the ballot box. But thanks to corporate administered elections, policy is insulated from politics, and voters cast ballots based on the perceived personality differences of the candidates, not vital policy matters.

In July, President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, touching off yet another round of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Kavanaugh sailed through the nomination proceedings until polling data showed the Democratic Party was within range of re-capturing the Senate in the rapidly approaching November elections. In a flash, Democrats brought forth Palo Alto university psychology professor Christine Blasey-Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of having tried to rape her at a high school party in the 1980s. But Ford proved unable to even place herself at the scene of the alleged crime, much less Kavanaugh, and none of the four alleged witnesses she cited could remember the party in question. Her allegations were left uncorroborated, and the Senate hearings quickly degenerated into a reality TV farce about sex, beer, and fart references (allegedly) in Kavanaugh's high school yearbook. With screaming mobs of always-believe-the-woman protesters swarming over the capitol, Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48, giving Republicans a long-sought right-wing "libertarian" majority on the court. (Note: the Kavanaugh appointment was made in July, but his confirmation hearings didn't end until October.)

In August, Arizona Senator John McCain died. The best eulogy was delivered decades prematurely by Spanish psychiatrist Fernando Barral, who evaluated McCain during his captivity in North Vietnam in the 1960s: “From the moral and ideological point of view he (McCain) showed us he is an insensitive individual without human depth, who does not show the slightest concern, who does not appear to have thought about the criminal acts he committed against a population from the absolute impunity of his airplane, and that nevertheless those people saved his life, fed him, and looked after his health and he is now healthy and strong. I believe that he has bombed densely populated places for sport. I noted that he was hardened, that he spoke of banal things as if he were at a cocktail party.” 

A rabid war-monger, McCain unaccountably won the admiration of Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who joined war criminals Barack Obama and George W. Bush in praising McCain after his death, tweeting nonsensically that he "represents an unparalleled example of human decency and American service."

In September, the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed by a "senior official in the Trump administration," who assured the American people "there are adults in the room" working closely to "frustrate parts of his (Trump's) agenda" and his "anti-democratic impulses." Nevertheless, the author confessed to seeing some "bright spots" in Trump's policies, such as:

 (1) deregulation - (rolling back regulations against air, water, and soil pollution; cutting consumer protections; weakening labor law and job safety standards; and freeing banks of burdensome regulations that prevent runaway speculation leading to economic collapse). These were good moves, according to the author.

(2) tax cuts - (overwhelmingly to benefit the rich, which produce a stock market boom that makes already grotesque poverty and income inequality even worse). 

(3) a "more robust" military - (that is, one even more glutted with the technology of mass murder that produces bitter anti-Washington hatred, often culminating in retaliatory terror attacks against Americans).  

The anonymous author also expressed alarm about Trump seeking friendly relations with Vladimir Putin, as opposed to the establishment policy of insult, demonization, and nuclear brinksmanship that carries a high risk of WWIII. 

If the foregoing are the views of "the adults in the room," maybe having a childish lunatic as president isn't so bad. On the other hand. . .

In October, the United Nations issued a dire report on climate change, warning that humanity has just 12 years left to drastically limit carbon emissions in order to avoid catastrophic consequences by the end of the century. While applying to the government of Ireland for a permit to build a huge wall to protect a golf course he owns from climate-induced rise in sea levels, Trump in the U.S. had his National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend an end to regulations on auto emissions on the grounds that by the end of the century (extrapolating from current trends and doing nothing to stop them) we'll have reached irretrievable environmental catastrophe anyway, so what's the point of not burning as much carbon as we want in the interim? 

In November, voters flocked to the polls in record numbers for a mid-term election which was widely seen as a referendum on Donald Trump. Turnout, while unusually high, still only reached 49%. In other words, even with the polarizing figure of Trump drawing record attention to politics, a majority of U.S. citizens did not see a vote worth casting. Though this attitude is customarily dismissed as reflecting lack of civic concern (by Democrats) or tacit satisfaction with the status quo (by Republicans), the attitude coincides with this fundamental reality:  non-voters are not a cross-section of Americans but the lower half of the wealth pyramid, which has no champion in an electoral system dominated by large corporations. In short, poor people won't vote for the politics of the rich.

In December, establishment media and politicians extravagantly praised recently deceased president George Herbert Walker Bush for decency, civility, and commitment to causes larger than himself, values deliberately cited to highlight a perceived contrast with Donald Trump, who witnessed the eulogies delivered at Bush's funeral in sullen silence. Among the causes "larger than himself" that Bush participated in was Indonesia's extermination of two hundred thousand simple mountain people in East Timor when he was CIA director (Bush gave the go-ahead), admiringly toasting Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos in Manila for an imaginary "adherence to democratic principle," when in fact he was guilty of "widespread and systematic" torture according to Amnesty International, and launching the 1991 Gulf War after refusing to consider any diplomatic resolution of the Kuwait crisis, killing two hundred thousand Iraqis (by Pentagon estimates) and leaving the bombed-out country in a "pre-industrial age" suffering "apocalyptic results" according to a UN mission. As for his "decency and civility," the best illustration of the absence of these qualities in Bush was his response to the U.S.S. Vincennes shooting down an Iranian civilian plane in 1988. The plane was in an ascending flight path and its transponder was clearly identifying it as a civilian plane when it was deliberately shot down, killing 290 people. Said Bush: "I don't care what the facts are. I'll never apologize for the United States of America." 

How decent, how civil. 

Out with the old, in with the new. If the interests of over half the population cannot be represented in the electoral system, let's face the fact that we have to produce a revolutionary democratic movement outside that system to challenge and overcome it. With extinction hanging over the human race, there's no time better than now to make it happen.

Happy New Year.


"The year in review," The Week - The Best of the U.S. and International Media, December 21/ December 28, 2018

John Hogan, "Noam Chomsky Calls Trump and Republican Allies 'Criminally Insane'" Scientific American, November 3, 2018 - for information on Trump and climate change

Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn, "The Horrors of John McCain: War Hero or War Criminal," Counterpunch, June 20, 2015

Gary Leupp, "Why Adulate This War-Monger?" Counterpunch, September 3, 2018, "Famed War Reporter Robert Fisk Reaches Syrian 'Chemical Attack' Site, Concludes "They Were Not Gassed," April 17, 2018 

Robert Fantina, "Bad to Worse:  Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel," Counterpunch, March 16, 2018 

The Impact of the (Israel-Palestine) Conflict on Children, 

Jeremy R. Hammond, "The 'Forgotten' U.S. Shootdown of Iranian Airliner Flight 655," Foreign Policy Journal, July 3, 2017

Jon Halliday and Bruce Cumings, "Korea - The Unknown War," (Pantheon, 1988)

Ann Coulter, "Resistance Is Futile: How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind" (Random House, 2018)- for information on Michael Cohen

Michael Parenti, "Democracy For The Few," (Thomson-Wadsworth, 2002) - for Pentagon estimate of deaths in the 1991 Gulf War

Michael K. Smith, "Portraits of Empire," (Common Courage, 2003) - for information on George Herbert Walker Bush.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Idiots 'R Us? - - U.S. Empire and the Road To Extinction

"The idiots take over in the final days of crumbling civilizations. Idiot generals wage endless, unwinnable wars that bankrupt the nation. Idiot economists call for reducing taxes for corporations and the rich and cutting social service programs for the poor. They project economic growth on the basis of myth. Idiot industrialists poison the water, the soil, and the air, slash jobs and depress wages.  Idiot bankers gamble on self-created financial bubbles. Idiot journalists and public intellectuals pretend despotism is democracy. Idiot intelligence operatives orchestrate the overthrow of foreign governments to create lawless enclaves that give rise to enraged fanatics. Idiot professors, 'experts," and  'specialists" busy themselves with unintelligible jargon and arcane theory that buttresses the policies of the rulers. Idiot entertainers and producers create lurid spectacles of sex, gore, and fantasy.

"There is a familiar checklist for extinction. We are ticking off every item on it.

"The idiots know only one word - 'more.'"

------Chris Hedges, America: The Farewell Tour, p. 42

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Caves, Malls and Holidays

The consumption frenzy that is the annual celebration of market religion once began after Thanksgiving but as economic problems grow the season of overspending starts even before Halloween. During this time when many seek spiritual joy through shopping but often find material sorrow through debt, we really should consider what it is we celebrate, and why.

Long before humanity invented religion or calendars our ancestors huddled in caves during the darkest cold, discovering in the process that we needed one another to survive. The winter solstice brought our primitive communist ancestors together to cope with fears but also strengthened faith that the darkness would ultimately lift, light would return and nature be reborn. And this was always the case, thereby setting a tradition for the celebration of future light, and the warm security provided by the community of kinfolk and tribes.

In the 21stcentury another darkness is descending not as a result of nature alone but of our systematic attack on that wonder. Continuous war and threats of economic and environmental breakdown present us with more crises than we’ve ever had to face, not simply as families, tribes or nations but as a race. And while we learn, all too slowly, that despite geographic and cultural differences we are one extended human family, those differences are manipulated by rulers and used to keep us in a mental darkness that threatens our future survival.

So as we wallow in the season of further increasing already unpayable debt we should consider this natural impulse to come together at special times and its perversion and transformation into a mass marketing orgy that covers evidence of a society going mad under a cloak of senseless individual consumption.

During our earliest days life was a struggle for all and not just some. But as we evolved we found that clinging together was not only the best but the only way to survive, as when the coldest, darkest nights offered no other security. That impulse is still part of us though it seems hard to find in present divisive reality of competitive and warring national organizations that corrupt healthy individual instincts by perverting the social nature of their origins.

While much of the religious impulse is toward material good for the whole human community, dualistic racial supremacists control the dominating biblical faith of judeo-christianity and menace all that is positive within any and all other faiths. Their fanatic absolutism denies our commonality by separating us into cults of competitive warriors. They rationalize violence as necessary to protect some of us from the rest of us, in support of governments, which wage war for political economic systems of profit and loss, which always mean profits for a minority and loss for everyone else. The contradiction between human ideals and spiritual dreams must be confronted at a time when it is more apparent than ever that preaching charity and togetherness for a special season makes no sense at all when we accept brutality and alienation for all seasons.

The holidays are never joyous for the billions living in poverty, nor those invaded, occupied and made refugees by a warped moral code that glorifies waste and celebrates pain. When we have reached a material level which could assure lives of decent comfort to all humanity, what allows this situation to prevail? The reason is not mythological or supernatural; it is political and economic and needs to be changed, radically, by the democratic human family which has been manipulated into being dysfunctional for far too long.

Wouldn’t it be nice to celebrate a holiday season not only with those at our dinner table or religious service but by extension with all those unable to physically join us where we huddle in greater physical comfort than our ancestors might ever have dreamed? We don’t want to return to the material status of those ancestors but it could happen if we don’t gain control of our social and natural environments, which are inseparable but at present being torn limb from limb. We might advance as a race, both materially and spiritually, by relearning our ancestors solidarity practiced in times of greatest stress and need.

Political systems use religion to keep people focused on an immaterial future and oblivious to the material present, but the best religious motivation brings people together for the betterment of all, in the here and now. Despite those thrown into fundamentalist fanaticism by conditions of oppression, a larger segment of believers are motivated to take social actions for humanitarian values not limited to only their own faith or belief systems. While some politics is helping create radical change, however slowly, it does so balanced with strong religious belief inspiring much citizen action. Whether movements for radical change are political or religious based they are portrayed as menacing by ruling forces that work to maintain the system of commercially murderous hypocrisy and call it enlightened moral democracy.

 It is no longer the natural conditions of weather or seasons that are a problem for all humanity but political economic systems of domination by minorities which threaten our race more than ever before, and even when what is dubbed “climate change” is called natural by those whose profits would end at democracy’s beginning, we are learning that the political damage inflicted by an uncontrolled economic tyranny is what needs to end for human salvation to truly begin.

Our early ancestors clung together hoping for a rebirth of nature, which always came. We live in a time when the death of nature is not a mysterious menace from collective unconsciousness but a real earthly force driven by pursuit of private benefit to be gained only at the ultimate public cost. We should exercise the spirit of the season in the communal way in which it was born and revive its past social impulse as a means of working for present social change. Rather than continue throwing money we don’t really have into the immoral mall that is a major part of our problem, if we shop for presents this season we might consider buying them from organizations, people and businesses working for another world of peace and social justice. We could further its possibilities by helping create a celebration of humanity and not simply an economic bottom line that could cause our aspiring civilization to bottom out. Let’s spend, if we must with acts of thoughtful hope for the future of all and not just our immediate families and friends, and however we choose to label them, have happier holidays in the process.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Caitlin Johnstone on Russia Hysteria

Five Things That Would Make The CIA/CNN Russia Narrative More Believable

July 14

This is not because I believe Vladimir Putin is some kind of blueberry-picking girl scout, and it certainly isn’t because I think the Russian government is unwilling or incapable of meddling in the affairs of other nations to some extent when it suits them. It is simply because I am aware that the US intelligence community lies constantly as a matter of policy, and because I understand how the burden of proof works.

At this time, I see no reason to espouse any belief system which embraces as true the assertion that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections in any meaningful way, or that it presents a unique and urgent threat to the world which must be aggressively dealt with. But all the establishment mouthpieces tell me that I must necessarily embrace these assertions as known, irrefutable fact. Here are five things that would have to change in order for that to happen:

1. Proof of a hacking conspiracy to elect Trump.

The first step to getting a heretic like myself aboard the Russia hysteria train would be the existence of publicly available evidence of the claims made about election meddling in 2016, which rises to the level required in a post-Iraq invasion world. So far, that burden of proof for Russian hacking allegations has not come anywhere remotely close to being met.

How much proof would I need to lend my voice to the escalation of tensions between two nuclear superpowers? Mountains. I personally would settle for nothing less than hard proof which can be independently verified by trusted experts like the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
Is that a big ask? Yes. Yes it is. That’s what happens when government institutions completely discredit themselves as they did with the false narratives advanced in the manufacturing of support for the Iraq invasion. You don’t get to butcher a million Iraqis in a war based on lies, turn around a few years later and say “We need new cold war escalations with a nuclear superpower but we can’t prove it because the evidence is secret.” That’s not a thing. Copious amounts of hard, verifiable proof or GTFO. So far we have no evidence besides the confident-sounding assertions of government insiders and their mass media mouthpieces, which is the same as no evidence.

2. Proof that election meddling actually influenced the election in a meaningful way.

Even if Russian hackers did exfiltrate Democratic party emails and give them to WikiLeaks, if it didn’t affect the election, who cares? That’s a single-day, second-page story at best, meriting nothing beyond a “Hmm, interesting, turns out Russia tried and failed to influence the US election,” followed by a shrug and moving on to something that actually matters.

After it has been thoroughly proven that Russia meddled in the elections in a meaningful way, it must then be established that that meddling had an actual impact on the election results.

3. Some reason to believe Russian election meddling was unwarranted and unacceptable. 

The US government, by a very wide margin, interferes in the elections of other countries far, far more than any other government on earth does. The US government’s own data shows that it has deliberately meddled in the elections of 81 foreign governments between 1946 and 2000, including Russia in the nineties. This is public knowledge. A former CIA Director cracked jokes about it on Fox News earlier this year.

If I’m going to abandon my skepticism and accept the Gospel According to Maddow, after meaningful, concrete election interference has been clearly established I’m going to need a very convincing reason to believe that it is somehow wrong or improper for a government to attempt to respond in kind to the undisputed single worst offender of this exact offense. It makes no sense for the United States to actively create an environment in which election interference is something that governments do to one another, and then cry like a spanked child when its election is interfered with by one of the very governments whose elections the US recently meddled in.

This is nonsense. America being far and away the worst election meddler on the planet makes it a fair target for election meddling by not just Russia, but every country in the world. It is very obviously moral and acceptable for any government on earth to interfere in America’s elections as long as it remains the world’s worst offender in that area. In order for Russia to be in the wrong if it interfered in America’s elections, some very convincing argument I’ve not yet heard will have to be made to support that case.

4. Proof that the election meddling went beyond simply giving Americans access to information about their government.

If all the Russians did was simply show Americans emails of Democratic Party officials talking to one another and circulate some MSM articles as claimed in the ridiculous Russian troll farm allegations, that’s nothing to get upset about. If anything, Americans should be upset that they had to hear about Democratic Party corruption through the grapevine instead of having light shed on it by the American officials whose job it is to do so. Complaints about election meddling is only valid if that election meddling isn’t comprised of truth and facts.

5. A valid reason to believe escalated tensions between two nuclear superpowers are worthwhile.

After it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia did indeed meddle in the US elections in a meaningful way, and after it has then been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia actually influenced election results in a significant way, and after the case has been clearly made that it was bad and wrong for Russia to do this instead of fair and reasonable, and after it has been clearly proven that the election meddling went beyond simply telling Americans the truth about their government, the question then becomes what, if anything, should be done about it?

If you look at the actions that this administration has taken over the last year and a half, the answer to that question appears to be harsh sanctions, NATO expansionism, selling arms to Ukraine, throwing out diplomats, increasing military presence along Russia’s border, a Nuclear Posture Review which is much more aggressive toward Russia, repeatedly bombing Syria, and just generally creating more and more opportunities for something to go catastrophically wrong with one of the two nations’ aging, outdated nuclear arsenals, setting off a chain of events from which there is no turning back and no surviving.

And the pundits and politicians keep pushing for more and more escalations, at this very moment braying with one voice that Trump must aggressively confront Putin about Mueller’s indictments or withdraw from the peace talks. But is it worth it? Is it worth risking the life of every terrestrial organism to, what? What specifically would be gained that makes increasing the risk of nuclear catastrophe worthwhile? Making sure nobody interferes in America’s fake elections? I’d need to see a very clear and specific case made, with a ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ list and “THE POTENTIAL DEATH OF LITERALLY EVERYTHING” written in big red letters at the top of the ‘cons’ column.

Rallying the world to cut off Russia from the world stage and cripple its economy has been been a goal of the US power establishment since the collapse of the Soviet Union, so there’s no reason to believe that even the people who are making the claims against Russia actually believe them. The goal is crippling Russia to handicap China, and ultimately to shore up global hegemony for the US-centralized empire by preventing the rise of any rival superpowers. The sociopathic alliance of plutocrats and intelligence/defense agencies who control that empire are willing to threaten nuclear confrontation in order to ensure their continued dominance. All of their actions against Russia since 2016 have had everything to do with establishing long-term planetary dominance and nothing whatsoever to do with election meddling.

Those five things would need to happen before I’d be willing to jump aboard the “Russia! Russia!” train. Until then I’ll just keep pointing to the total lack of evidence and how very, very far the CIA/CNN Russia narrative is from credibility.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

From Jobs to "Gigs"

" . . . most of the young, educated people  . . . . in the 1970s and '80s had never expected, much less worked to bring about, a political and cultural revolution. But they had hoped for stable employment, preferable in jobs they found meaningful and creative, and in an age when the entire sociological map was being redrawn, there was little chance of that. First, the traditional blue-collar working class gave way to 'deindustrialization,' meaning plant closings and layoffs. As the downsizing fervor spread to the nonprofit sector, whole sections of the professional middle class crumbled off like calves from a melting iceberg. Human service agencies began to shed their social workers, psychologists, and public-interest lawyers. Universities shuttered departments, like philosophy and foreign languages, that were failing to generate sufficient revenue. An alarming new phenomenon appeared - the taxi-driving PhD, predecessor of today's avatar of educational disutility, the PhD on food stamps.

"In the face of so much class turmoil, young people rapidly rolled back their expectations to fit the narrowing career possibilities. UCLA's annual survey of undergraduate attitudes found a sharp decline in 'altruism and social concerns,' with a record 73 percent in 1987 reporting that their top goal was 'being very well-off financially,' compared with 39 percent in 1970.  . . .  students who had started out with an interest in social work or environmentalism decid[ed] regretfully to settle for majors in business or economics. But there was not much security even for the most practical-minded, because in the 1980s corporations also began to downsize (or 'right-size') their white-collar workforces. GE was routinely culling out its bottom 15 percent of performers decades before Amazon got the idea. There were no more 'jobs for life,' no automatic promotions leading to a gold watch at retirement. Business gurus advised corporate employees to stop worrying about 'who stole their cheese' and focus instead on 'surfing the chaos.'"

------Barbara Ehrenreich, Natural Causes - An Epidemic of Wellness, The Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, pps. 55-6

How The "Information Superhighway" Led Us to Digital Socialism

"Flexible workforces and flexible firms had been growing for forty years, but computers and other technologies reinforced these changes, just as the steam engine accelerated the industrious revolution. Reorganizing people made industrialization possible. The first factories were just buildings. The first assembly lines were just slides. Businesses then developed technology to take full advantage of these new ways of organizing people. Technology, in turn, became intertwined with this reorganization, becoming the most visible part of the epochal change. Observers confused cause and effect.

"The application of the internet to the flexible workforce was no different. The digital platforms developed over the last twenty years provide flexible workforces, now catchily called 'liquid workforces,' to employers with a click. At the same time, however, these platforms might contain the seeds of an alternative to the corporation, which, if realized, would be a truly radical break in the economy. It is unclear that any of the platforms . . . .will exist in a few years, but what is apparent is that the digital platform, as a way to coordinate work, is unlike anything ever before.

"Flexible workforces are nothing new. But that workers might truly be able to be independent from employers, without temp agencies or consulting firms - that is what has become possible with the new platforms. Workers can now do on their own that just a few years ago required participation in a corporation: manufacturing globally, selling globally, shopping globally, working globally. The corporation might no longer be necessary. (emphasis added) The office certainly will not be, as the remote work revolution is finally here. Today, the same information technologies that allow capital to manage labor in new ways might also enable labor to collaborate in new ways. With the death of the employer-employee relationship - and the industrial economy - workers certainly need an alternative.

"The platform cooperativist movement is pushing for worker-owned cooperatives as an alternative to the privately owned platforms. Digital labor and selling platforms make their profits from a cut of sales or wages, just like Manpower, Upwork, Uber, and Etsy all take a percentage or a fee from every sale. Worker-owned platforms, instead, could return those fees to those who labor or sell through the platform. Imagine a temp agency owned by the temps. 

"Where digital cooperatives might be different from temp agencies is in the ability to start cheaply and to coordinate decision making. Open-source platform software makes it easier than ever to set up a platform. In the past, the challenge for all co-ops was capital. Most businesses require capital to start and capital to grow. Marketing cooperatives, like orange growers, or procurement cooperatives, like grocery stores, don't actually make operational decisions. They make selling and purchasing decisions. For drivers, sellers, and laborers, different kinds of platforms could help them find customers - without extracting a stiff toll like the current platforms (or temporary agencies). Running a cooperative is a challenge, because no one, in many cases, is in charge. And that is part of the point. New technology, developed for other purposes, might be able to solve the governance issues.

"Everyone has something to offer. We just need to find a way to reach everyone. In the digital era, connecting people is easier than ever before. While the flexible workforce and the flexible firm brought insecurity in the last forty years, we can turn them around now and make them work for us. Technology will make it possible, but what will make it happen is collective will to finally achieve the real American dream."

-----------Louis Hyman, Temp - How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary, pps. 292-3, 309, 322